Liberian attorney to use LL.M. to help vulnerable populations

Fourteen years of civil unrest in Liberia led to the destruction of many aspects of society, from damaged infrastructure to a challenged education system. 

Numene T. H. Bartekwa, Jr. wants to help his country, and hopes that an LL.M. degree will enable him to do so.

He plans to focus his career on helping indigents and the most vulnerable people at the grassroots level, and to help citizens understand their rights and responsibilities with translated copies of the Liberian constitution.

“Because of the high illiteracy rate in Liberia, the people do not understand what their rights are and what to demand from their leaders,” Bartekwa said. “I feel that educating them in a way that they can understand will put them in a position where they can demand their rights and will greatly reduce the abuses that they undergo from their leaders.”

Bartekwa was raised in Liberia along with his six siblings. He holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and general law.

He found the University of Minnesota Law School through a reference from a colleague who had completed an LL.M. there.

The school has been a great fit — aside, perhaps, from the weather.

“My first experience with winter, wearing lots of layers, has been much of a fun,” Bartekwa said. “I am from a country that is much warmer so adjusting to the cold weather has been a challenge, but it has also been amazing.” 

The style of teaching also required an adjustment period, as students are required to be familiar with materials for interactive classes each day.

Overall, the LL.M. program has been an amazing experience, he said.

“Interacting with students from different backgrounds, different legal systems, different culture has been a great learning experience,” he said. “It has also been a rewarding experience interacting and learning from professors that have vast knowledge and experience in the legal profession and having the opportunity to learn from professors that have authored books has been rewarding."

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